Balancing the Immune System

Autoimmune diseases are truly the prevailing health problem of the 21st century. Millions of Americans have one form or another of an autoimmune condition. What I have come to learn is that autoimmune diseases are really less about the organ being affected and more about an immune dysregulation, where the immune system is attacking the organ, and the organ is more the "victim" rather than the problem. So naturally, correcting autoimmunity will be a matter of balancing the immune system. For the most part, the immune system can be divided into two arms: Th1 vs Th2. Most autoimmune diseases cause imbalances that create Th2 dominance, but not all auto-immune diseases create Th2 dominance. Some cause Th1 dominance and some activate both.

Botanicals like green tea, turmeric, pine bark extract, grape seed extract, resveratrol and pycnogenol, among others, are Th2 stimulants. So, if someone is Th1 dominant, they are going to feel great when they take these nutrients. BUT if they are Th2 dominant, then taking these nutrients will make them feel worse!

Botanicals like echinacea, licorice root extract, goldenseal and maitake mushroom, among others, are Th1 stimulants. So supplements with these nutrients will make a person who is Th2 dominant feel great while those who are Th1 dominant will feel awful.

Interestingly enough, pregnancy is a Th2 dominant phenomenon. This happens so that a womans body doesn't reject her fetus. So if you have an auto immune disease where you are Th1 dominant, such as Hashimoto's, you are going to feel great during your pregnancy because your immune system will balance out. But if you have lupus which is a Th2 dominant disease and you get pregnant, you are going to feel really awful!

So, you see, autoimmunity is VERY tricky. You have to try to discern whether the patient is Th1 or Th2 dominant. Actually it's not even really this clear cut, but for the most part, this is the situation. In the meantime, nutrients that all patients with autoimmune disease need to be on are high dose fish oils and at least 2000 IUs of Vitamin D. Both of these are going to help "balance" out the immune system, regardless of Th1 or Th2 dominance.

4/3/2023 4:00:00 AM
Dr.Sheila Dean
Written by Dr.Sheila Dean
DR.SHEILA DEAN,DSc,RD,LD/N,CCN,CDE is a registered and licensed dietitian, board certified clinical nutritionist, certified diabetes educator and exercise physiologist. She received her undergraduate training through Rutgers University, completed her internship and graduate training with University of Rhode Island and ...
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If you have a child whom rarely ever gets sick (immune system seems on overdrive), does this point to one dominant (Th1 or Th2) over the other?
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